Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery

A Guide to Your Child's Surgery

Our Surgery Guide will help you and your family prepare for your child's upcoming surgery, outlining what to expect from the first pre-op visit all the way through to her discharge.

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Thyroid Nodules

What is a thyroid nodule?
How is it diagnosed?
About the operation
After the operation
Follow-up
When to call the doctor

What is a thyroid nodule?

The thyroid — a gland located in the front part of the neck, just above the collarbone — makes hormones to help regulate your child's body. A thyroid nodule is a firm lump in the thyroid gland; it may be cancerous or benign (not cancerous).

How is it diagnosed?

Your child's doctor may order a number of tests if he suspects your child may have a thyroid nodule:

About the operation

Your child will need either a lobectomy or a total thyroidectomy. In a lobectomy, the surgeon removes only the section — called a lobe — that contains the lump. In a total thyroidectomy, the surgeon removes the entire thyroid. The incision will be in the neck, above the collarbone; the incision length depends on the size of the thyroid. The surgeon will close the incision in a way that limits scarring. The stitches will be under the skin and won't need to be removed. Thin strips of surgical tape called STERI-STRIPS, or a liquid bonding agent called DERMABOND, close the skin.

Watch the video below to learn more about thyroid surgery and the multidisciplinary team that will work with your child, including our surgeons and experts from CHOP's Pediatric Thyroid Center.

VIDEO WILL APPEAR HERE

After the operation

After surgery, your child will go to the recovery room for about an hour, then back to his regular hospital room. The head of his bed will be slightly raised for 24 hours.

Your child will get pain medicine through an intravenous (IV) line first, then by mouth once he begins eating and drinking. His doctor may order blood tests to check his calcium levels; your child may have to take thyroid medication or calcium after his surgery.

Your child will usually be discharged 24 to 48 hours after surgery.

Follow-up

You'll need to take your child back to her surgeon's office about two to three weeks after surgery for a follow-up appointment. She'll also need to see an endocrinologist, who will continue to care for her as an outpatient.

When to call the doctor

Please call your child's doctor's office (at Children's Hospital, call 215-590-2730) if:

Reviewed by: Surgical Advanced Practice Nurses
Date: November 2008

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